WEST Perth may have run away with the WAFL preliminary final against East Perth in the last quarter but it was the side’s third term that set up the 29-point victory in Joondalup on Sunday.
The determination shown in that period, in front of a bountiful and boisterous 8514 supporters, was the ilk of what the Falcons will need if they are to follow up the 14.13 (97) to 10.8 (68) triumph with a grand final win against Subiaco this weekend.
With a decent breeze blowing to the northern end of Arena Joondalup, the first half resulted in nine goals kicked in that direction and just one each to the archrivals when they headed south.
After a five-goal second quarter, the Falcons had a six-point lead at half-time but the third term threatened to put them under intense scoreboard pressure with the Royals kicking to the favoured end.
Instead, the hosts set about applying an attacking assault of their own, rendering East Perth’s wind-assisted attempts to clear the ball long from defence ineffective on a number of occasions with strong contested work between the flanks.
The ball regularly found itself back inside West Perth’s forward 50, resulting in an iron-willed three goals to East Perth’s four.
This was despite injuries to Matt Johnson and Laine Rasmussen, leaving the local side two men short on the bench.
With scores tied at three quarter time, the Falcons’ gutsy third term disallowed the Royals any breathing space and the visitors suffocated as the match winners booted five goals to one with the wind at their backs in the final stanza.
Forward focal point Michael Lourey showed no signs of the ankle injury that threatened to keep him out of the game.
The spearhead booted six goals and took six grabs, including one of the year’s best in the second quarter when he used the shoulder blades of East Perth’s Kyle Anderson as the springboard for a spectacular chest mark.
Midfielder Shane Nelson, who had a quiet end to the season, found his spark with 27 possessions, eight tackles and a crowd-raising running goal in the last quarter.
Defender Steven Browne proved the workhorse of a very impressive West Perth back six with a season-high 28 possessions.
The injuries to Johnson and Rasmussen could raise some interesting selection possibilities for the grand final should they be unfit to play.
Premiership defender Jordan Jones could become the benefactor, while fringe league players such as Corey Chalmers and Luke Meadows, who have not won selection in the finals, could also come into calculations.